December 16 gangrape: SC clarifies on appointment of amicus curiae

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The Supreme Court on Monday clarifed that the two amicus curiae appointed by it on the appeals of the four death row convicts in December 16 gangrape and murder case does not undermine the credentials of the lawyers engaged by the condemned prisoners.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra made the remarks after one of the counsel appearing for two convicts said that “erroneous aspersions” have been casted in the minds of people regarding the capability of lawyers as apex court appointed amicus curiae in the matter at the last hearing.
“We clarify that the court appoints amicus curiae even when parties have engaged their counsel. It never means that the counsel is not competent,” the bench, also comprising justices C Nagappan and R Banumathi, said. Advocate M L Sharma, appearing for two convicts, referred to a media report and said after the amicus curiae were appointed in the matter, it was reported that lawyers engaged by the convicts were “not competent”.
However, the bench said, “we have appointed amicus curiae in the matter as we wanted to learn. We wanted to have a perception and view of the amicus curiae. Even in matters in which senior advocates have appeared, we have appointed amicus curiae.”
“We are not depriving you from arguing your case,” the bench said and fixed the matter for hearing on July 18.
The bench also allowed an application filed by victim’s mother seeking to implead her as a party in the case.
The apex court, on April 8, had appointed senior advocates Raju Ramachandran and Sanjay Hegde as amicus curiae to assist the court in the matter. While Ramachandran would assist the court in appeals of convicts, Mukesh and Pawan, Hegde would assist in appeals of other two convicts, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh.
On April 4, the court had commenced final arguments on the plea of Mukesh and Pawan.
These four convicts had approached the apex court against Delhi High Court’s March 13, 2014 verdict which had observed that their offence fell in the rarest of rare category and had upheld the death sentence awarded to them by the trial court.
A 23-year-old paramedic was brutally assaulted and gangraped by six persons in a moving bus in South Delhi and thrown out of the vehicle with her male friend on the night of December 16, 2012. She had died in a Singapore hospital on December 29.
The prime accused, Ram Singh, was found dead in a cell in Tihar Jail in March 2013 and proceedings against him were abated.
On August 31, 2013, another accused, a juvenile at the time of the crime, was convicted and sentenced to three years in a reformation home. He was released from observation home in December last year.

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